Granola is just good. I feel like I really don’t need to sell it. Everybody likes it, and for good reason. It’s sweet, crunchy, packed with a lot of heathy nutrients, and can be used in a bunch of different ways. Plus it is really satisfying to eat. It can be made in a bunch of different ways too. Chewy, crunchy, bars, cereal, etc.
Unfortunately, granola can be a tad bit expensive. Not to mention filled with some less than desirable ingredients such as hydrogenated fats, corn syrup, and a host of other chemicals that are less than tasty. But the good news is that you can make it at home really easy. Before I started making it, I thought it was a lot harder to make than it really is.
When I make granola at home, I tend to make a lot. It keeps really well, and I like always having some to snack on. Actually granola not only makes for a great breakfast, but also a great snack to munch on throughout the day. And it’s packed to the brim with insoluble fiber from the oats, nuts and dried fruit. Which means that you will stay fuller for longer, and have to eat less of it (compared to other snacks like potato chips, jerky, candy, etc.}.
yes, yes there is sugar and fat in granola, but since we are making it for ourselves, we can have peace of mind that it will be healthy and lacking the aforementioned chemicals and processed bits. For example, instead of hydrogenated fats such as shortening or margarine, I like to use really good quality fats. Some that work are extra virgin olive oil, extra virgin coconut oil, and even butter. I know butter has gotten a really bad rap from health food critics, but it has more mono-unsaturated fats and vitamins than most other lipids. So as long as you aren’t eating globs of it over everything, a little butter is actually good for you. As for the sugar, I do tend to stay away from processed white sugar, and have been using it less and less of it in all my cooking. To me, brown sugar tastes far better and contains molasses which is high in potassium and vitamins. Honey or even maple syrup would be a delicious substitution, or you can even use all three together
Essentially granola is toasted rolled oats. That’s the main body of any granola. Thankfully, oats take really well to a lot of other ingredients such as dried fruit, chocolate, nuts, spices, etc. Actually it’s a great deal similar to trail mix. The only difference is that we’re going to add a few more items to it in order to give it flavor and texture…mainly fat, sugar, and salt. An optional addition is wheat germ. Wheat germ is the reproductive part of the wheat kernel that is usually removed when milling wheat into flour. It has a lot of heart healthy oils, fiber, protein, vitamins, and other assorted nutrients that are really good for you…I mainly use it to make my granola a little more chewy….but healthy is also good…again wheat germ is optional but can be a welcome addition.
So any how, enough chatting here’s the recipe:
4 cups rolled oats
1+1/2 cups brown sugar (or honey or maple syrup)
1 stick of butter
2 cups chopped dried fruit
2 cups roughly chopped nuts or sliced almonds
1+1/2 tsp salt
2 tabespoons spices or 2 teaspoons extract
(optional) 1/2 cup wheat germ
So this is my basic granola formula ↑↑↑
If you notice, I don’t use exact ingredients. Like, I won’t tell you to use apricots and raisins with peanuts. I mean, you could…but this formula is a shell. it can stand up to those kinds of changes. The reason I don’t tell you exactly what to use is because the ratio of amounts of ingredients is much more important. That specific amount of sugar and butter will nicely make sweet and crunchy clusters with those specific amounts of oats, nuts, fruit, etc. It’s actually kind of fun to go to the store and try to find something to make my granola a little different than the time before. For instance, The granola pictured has almonds, banana chips, and dried mangos….and I spiced it up a little with some cinnamon and nutmeg
So just remember, as long as you have the amounts right, you can go crazy and try a lot of different combinations.
The first step is to preheat your oven to 325°F. While that’s heating, roughly chop your fruit and nuts (except sliced almonds because, well…they’re already sliced). If you are using chocolate, I would probably go with morsels or chocolate chips so that there is less chopping.
Next, melt the butter ( or warm up your fat whether you are using coconut oil or any other fat) in a sauce pan and while its hot, stir in the sugar (or honey or maple syrup), salt, remove from the heat and stir in your spices or extract. (side note: you can definitely use spices AND an extract, but when I do that, I find that the resulting granola gets a little too over saturated with flavor. After all, you want to taste the subtleties of all those toasty flavors were about to make). If you are using sugar, you just want to make sure it melts into the liquid. you don’t need a lot of heat to do this, but you will have to swirl it over a burner and whisk it to make sure it has thoroughly melted. Let it cool for a minute or two.
Find yourself a large mixing bowl, and two sheet pans line with parchment paper. mix all your dry ingredients thoroughly: the oats, fruit, nuts, wheat germ (if you re using it), or any other flavorful morsel. Then, pour over the sugar-fat-spice mixture and with your hands mix it into the oat mixture.
Spread all of it out as evenly on the sheet pans as possible, trying to get all of it into one even layer. Bake your soon to be granola for about 35-40 minutes. After the first 20minutes you can check to make sure it is browning evenly. If you have an uneven oven, you may have to rotate the trays. Check in on your granola every 10 minutes from there. Once it is evenly golden brown everywhere, you are done.
Although I said making granola is easy…NOW COMES THE HARDEST PART!!!
You have to wait! Your house is by now, no doubt, filled with the intoxicating aroma of toasting nuts and oats…which by the way, who knew that toasted oats could smell THIS good..i mean, raw they smell like nothing, if not a little mineral-y, but toasted they are incredible. Really, really, really incredible…what’s the deal with that?? If anything, just make granola for the smell of it!
Where was I? Oh, yeah, you have to wait. The sugar and other proteins that are gluing this whole thing together are still molten. if you move it now, it will never form clusters. You have to let t cool for about an hour then you can move it to an airtight container where it will keep for at least 3 months. Not that it will last that long…
So yeah, that’s pretty much it. its really easy. Make it once, and I guarantee you will keep making it as soon as you start running low. which for already explained reasons is a very good thing to always have granola handy.
I like to eat mine in a bowl with milk and sliced bananas or fresh berries. But I definitely grab a few handfuls throughout the day. But its also good in a whole lot of other ways. You can put little over your yogurt, you can actually (going back to the trail mix) use it in trail mix, and you can even get creative with it by using it, let’s say, to make the crust for a fruit cobbler with ice cream over the top.
Believe me there are a lot of creative things you can do with granola. And now that you are making your own and not breaking the bank to buy a few ounces at the store, you can experiment to your hearts content. I’m thinking about trying to mill already-made granola so that I can make bread with it…who know if it will turn out?
Any way, you now have the tools to arm yourself with this delicious granola, so go out there and leave a comment below to let me know how your turned out 🙂